Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 01:29 GMT
One in 40 drivers 'without licence'
The AA says most unlicensed drivers "tend to be male and younger"
As many as 800,000 unlicensed drivers are on the road and the "frightening" number is likely to rise, according to a study.
The numbers could be swelled by those too ashamed to admit to family and friends that they failed their driving test, the AA said.
It said the complexity of the new two-part driving test was adding to the problem.
The organisations's head of road safety Andrew Howard said: "Many people see the theory element of the driving test as a halfway house and fail to bother with the practical.
Most unlicensed drivers tend to be male and younger drivers, said the AA.
It called for harsh penalties against people driving without a licence.
"Anyone who drives without a licence should be regarded quite simply as a 'motoring outlaw'," said Mr Howard.
"While the vast majority of motorists bear the burden of tax, insurance, MoT tests and driving licences, there exists a frighteningly large core of motorists who steadfastly refuse to do so."
The unlicensed figure of about one in 40 of drivers was arrived at after a six-month study prepared for the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research.